Actually, Pierce is generally not listed as the worst, but rather one of the worst -- James Buchanan, Millard Filmore, Warren G. Harding, and a few others make all the lists, and when the lists are ranked, Pierce is seldom number one. But still. Mr. Bush, we thank you for nudging his legacy a little bit farther from the bottom.
Is Franklin Pierce due for a promotion? Pierce, the only New Hampshire man elected to the White House, is a perennial nominee for Worst President Ever. But as that office's current occupant finds his own reputation under attack from many historians and the public, Pierce could move up a notch from the bottom of the presidential rankings -- a boost Pierce partisans say is long past due.
"When I speak to groups, somebody always asks, 'How does it feel to know your man is no longer the worst?' " said Peter Wallner, author of a recent two-volume biography of Pierce. "I take a little bit of pleasure in the fact that (President George) Bush is viewed by them as worse than Pierce."
It's also interesting to note the maiden name of President Bush's mother, Barbara, is Pierce. She is a fourth cousin four times removed of Franklin Pierce. Mr. Bush has been making the rounds lately, "polishing his legacy" (excrement can be polished?), blaming everybody else for his failures, and perhaps now, citing his mother's ancestry, he could add one more excuse: "I couldn't help myself! It's in my genes!"